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Grasping the Concept of a General Protections Claim

Having knowledge of your rights within the workspace is paramount, and one of the key rights that safeguards employees is the General Protections Claim. It falls under the purview of the Fair Work Act 2009, which explicitly forbids any negative action against someone because of their workplace rights, or due to the exercise or proposed exercise of these rights.

Breaking Down the Concept of a Workplace Right

‘Workplace right’ is a comprehensive term that includes several aspects. It involves entitlements under a workplace law or a formal instrument like an award or enterprise agreement. It also covers the ability to initiate a proceeding under a workplace law or instrument or the right to raise a complaint or question related to one’s employment.

Demystifying Adverse Action

Adverse action is an action that negatively impacts an employee. This could include dismissing or refusing to employ a person, discriminating against them, or causing harm to their employment, like through demotion or reduction in overtime or usual work hours.

Understanding a General Protections Claim

A General Protections dispute comes into play when adverse action is taken, or when such action is threatened, because a person has a workplace right, exercises such a right, or proposes to exercise such a right. For instance, if an employee is dismissed because they took temporary leave due to illness and can establish that the dismissal was due to this, they may claim a breach of the general protections provisions. However, it’s important to note that being dismissed while on temporary leave due to illness does not automatically mean a breach of the general protections provisions has occurred.

It thus becomes essential to showcase a correlation between the adverse action and the workplace right. Importantly, General Protections Claims can be made by existing employees, prospective employees, independent contractors, or individuals who have entered into a service contract.

These disputes primarily involve an employee and their employer. Employees who believe they’ve been dismissed due to a workplace right need to file a General Protections Claim within 21 days of the dismissal. Interestingly, there are no qualifying periods or wage caps for General Protections Claims, ensuring these protections come into force from the beginning of an employee’s employment and, in certain instances, even before the employee is officially employed, regardless of their pay scale.

Summing Up

Although there’s no ban on an employer taking adverse action against an employee, they must ensure there’s no link between that action and a workplace right that the employee has exercised or proposes to exercise. If an action leads to a disadvantage to the employee (like dismissal, demotion, or pay/bonus reduction), it’s important to confirm there’s no connection to a workplace right.

Understanding the nuances of General Protections Claims can equip individuals to better defend their rights in the workplace, thereby promoting a fair and respectful work environment for all.

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